Archive for August 5th, 2012

THE BOY WITH TAPE ON HIS FACE-MORE TAPE

The Boy with Tape on his Face-More Tape- Plesance Grand (August 2nd -27th not 18th)

 

I am probably swimming against the tide of popular and critical opinion here-nothing new there- but this show left me cold and did absolutely nothing whatsoever to stimulate my senses. Judging from the reactions of those around me I am alone in this opinion as their excitement –for whatever reason I cannot fathom- was barely contained and every nuance and action was met with whoops of delight and a frenzy of frenetic applause. I don’t know whether it was over my head or under my radar but I could not, for the life of me, see what the fuss was all about.

It was a competent enough show but I always felt it was trying just that little bit too hard to be quirky, edgy and a little bit out there but within the confines of the mainstream and overly familiar. Perhaps because the mainstream has never troubled my senses too much this is what was missing. Thus scenes emulating Star Wars and Chariots of Fire elicited hilarious laughter from the audience while I just sat staring blankly.

The creation of Sam Wills The Boy with Tape on his Face was a media and public sensation in 2011 and this new show looks like repeating that success and taking Wills to new heights of success. It is a brave idea to put so much emphasis on audience participation and Wills is obviously a seriously talented artist who knows how to skilfully manipulate, cajole and seduce in equal measure. Like wise the use of cheap props found in any household is refreshing compared to the hi-tech pyrotechnics a lot less competent acts deploy to produce less effective results.

I was not totally underwhelmed throughout the whole performance however as there were moments  of actual enjoyment , not least a make shift bull fight, a dating section and the finale-which I won’t reveal- was a unifying experience which would be hard for anyone to resist.

I am certain this show will be a huge success and word of mouth- not from Wills obviously who performs silent with duct tape over his mouth throughout the one hour duration- and other critical appraisals will guarantee this. I seriously wanted to enjoy it more but unfortunately no matter how tried I was continually non-plussed. For those whose tastes are slightly more left field and edgy then this is a three star show. For the rest who are impressed with mainstream acts which make you smile but provide no food for thought then it is four or even five star show. No doubt the latter will prevail and Wills will go on to be a huge star but unfortunately I myself don’t see why.

***

David Marren

TOM THUM- BEATING THE HABIT

Tom Thum – Beating the Habit –Udderbelly 6.45pm

 

This was always going to be good. Having seen Tom Thum before, when he performed with the extremely athletic and exhilirating Tom Tom Crew, I was already well aware of his amazingly astounding beatboxing talents and ability to drive a show. What I was not quite so sure about was how he was going to carry a solo show for an hour as previously he had provided some captivating sounds to accompany some pretty impressive visuals. To be clear then here is what Thum does not do; backflips, strip off to his waist or launch into the air. What he does do is exude confidence and provide no concerns that he is capable of maintaining an hour long show on his own merits.

Whether it be a hazy, floating on air jazz trumpet, hissing hi-hat, booming bass drum, Julie Andrews on helium style vocals or the familiar and re-assuring crackle of old vinyl it would seem there is no sound Thum cannot convincingly summon up from his vocal cords. Armed only with an arsenal of basic equipment to store the sounds he conjures up we are treated then to remixes of ‘Tainted Love’, Rappers Delight’ and the, bemoaning the fact he still lives with his parents, original ‘Homestay Blues’. There is also a section where the audience suggest sounds for him to make and last nights requests included an imploding kitten-nice-and dolphins having sex. This section shows the dexterity of his talent and the fact he can respond at breakneck speed.

A short film followed about his time in rehab to purge him off his beatbox addiction-the beating the habit of the show’s title- and this section is well executed with humour and verve. It is then back for his closing section featuring a Terminator analogy which cannot fail to impress.

That is the thing about this show, there is little about it which can fail to impress and, indeed, some sections will leave you gobsmacked at the talents this young man has at his disposal. Thoroughly amiable and charming his natural insouciant charisma shines unquestionably through until the very end of the show. The other night during the preview shows I was in the toilets and heard a strange collection of sounds that I assumed was the toilets backing up-the excessive rain of late has provided uncertainties such as this- and rushing out the cubicle I ran into Thum doing the beatbox version of practicing his scales and vocal exercises and suddenly my fears were assuaged. Likewise this show will set aside any notions that the Fringe does not have something worthwhile to offer in 2012.

*****

David Marren

BITCH BOXER

Bitch Boxer

This one woman show written and performed by Charlotte Josephine is a finely tuned piece of intelligent and enthralling theatre. Detailing the trials and tribulations of a female boxer in training for the 2012 London Olympics, director Bryony Shanahan has utilised Josephine’s well thought out script and capable acting skills to coax a contemporary and relevant drama with a finely nuanced performance creating a worthwhile modern drama both exhilarating and accomplished

Chloe-the character the action revolves around- is deep in training for the Olympics in her chosen field of female boxing. The amount of discipline she has to impose on herself is anathema to the situations she finds herself in and complicated by the recent death of her father, an awkward relationship with her mother and the arrival of a new boyfriend, Jamie. All of these intrusions conspire to distract from the goal she has set herself and along the way options are weighed up and some are discarded in order that she may achieve her initial dream.

The sparse set is more than adequately compensated by the accompanying soundtrack which adds depth, colour and significance. Therefore we see Chloe training to the likes of Johnny Cash and lip synching to Eminen and, most incongruously of all, getting bootyliscious to Rihanna as a means of ensnaring her man. The latter is especially funny as the awkwardness she feels when out on the street -without the aid of alcohol, strobes and loud music- encourages her naturally inherent shyness to take root and matters are not helped when her friend throws up all over her beau’s brand new spanking white trainers.

From the opening scene where Chloe locks herself out and finds herself in a neighbour’s garden chased by a pit bull the play swings between comic and serious issues almost seamlessly. The issues which are raised concerning relationships in competitive arenas are particularly poignant but in this drama they are never browbeating but instead cleverly and sensitively dealt with.

Although only in the third day of the Fringe I very much doubt that Bitch Boxer will be superseded by many other similar dramas on the circuit. Charlotte Josephine turns in a stunning performance and the production is already as tight as it is likely to get. When at the end of her performance the audience gave her a standing ovation it was obvious the show is a clear winner.

****

RICHARD HERRING-TALKING COCK

Richard Herring- Talking Cock –Udderbelly 8.15pm (August 1st -26th)

 

Billed as ‘The Vagina Monologues with Balls’, Richard Herring brings his tale of his fascination and studies of the much discussed, worried about and exaggerated male genitalia to the Edinburgh Fringe. It is a show which has already courted controversy due to the title which for some reason has offended the Edinburgh City Council. Personally they would be better concentrating their energies on censoring another bunch of cocks-those responsible for the multi-million pound trams debacle- rather than a show which approaches its subject with humour, insight and more than a little intelligence.

Herring has done his research, apparently to the level of obsession, and now finds himself ‘thinking of cock’ at random moments almost to the point of embarrassing himself on occasion. It is a well constructed show which sets out to debunk certain myths-length or girth- and examines men’s attitudes to their own appendage and the resulting differing relationships which arise due to these attitudes. Insecurities, arrogance and confusion are just some of the areas explored and Herring even takes matters back to boyhood reminiscences and at this juncture the humour often takes a turn towards schoolboy humour territory although this is only to be expected really.

Taking a lot of his act from research and questionnaires the results are often extremely funny although unfortunately they  never quite stray into hilarious territory and the laughter- most surprisingly notably from the females around me- was occasionally stifled, embarrassed and knowing; in some cases maybe a little too knowing.

Herring does know how to work a crowd however and his show never once flagged or faltered sustaining a level throughout. It would have been better if it had reached more peaks but it was entertaining nevertheless. It also showed a more sensitive side to Herring and his attitude towards his subject matter was intelligent, informed and not just the usual bunch of crude, cheap jokes. As far as evening comedy goes Herring is ahead of most of the pack it is just his material needs that extra push to take him out of their league.

***

David Marren